The most important characteristic of a good journalist is curiosity, at least that’s what my Intro to Journalism professor at Lipscomb told the class.
Although traditional journalism has transformed with new media, I believe his point is still true. The best information comes from asking the best questions, and the best questions come from genuine curiosity. Whether the medium is a newspaper, a blog, or a podcast, people are still in search of the best information.
A conversational style interview is often the easiest and most interesting way to record a podcast. The interview typically requires less work on the front end to create the content.
You will, however, want to be prepared with a few good questions. You may not make be able to ask all the questions on your list, and you obviously don’t want to limit yourself to the list, but a certain amount of preparation will be extremely helpful.
With all the information in the world at our fingertips, finding your guests bio, accomplishments, interests, and areas of expertise shouldn’t be too difficult.
If your audience is relatively unfamiliar with your guest, you’ll want to start with the typical reporter questions: Who? What? When? and Where?
What are you currently working on?
What inspired you to go that route?
What are you most proud of?
To get your guest to open up and go deeper on a particular subject, you’ll want to ask questions that start with “why” or “how.”
How’d you get started?
Whether you’re referring to a career, a project, or an adventure, “How’d you get started?” creates a perfect opportunity for a good story.
ESPN’s Dan Le Batard hosts a hugely popular national radio show. He asks his Hollywood guests a question that always gets a good answer:
What’s the one role you turned down, or didn’t get, that you most regret missing out on?
Obviously you can modify the particulars based on your guest. What’s the novel you wish you had written? What’s the pass you wish you had thrown? What’s the dress you wish you had designed?
Tenured radio personality, Marcia Ware, hosts the NashvilleGuitarStore.com Podcast, produced by Premier. She finishes every interview with some fun – a lightning round of “this or that.” Your guests will enjoy it and so will your audience.
Coffee or tea? Chocolate or vanilla? Beatles or Stones? Up late or up early? Yankees or Red Sox?
The goal is to make guests comfortable. Comfortable guests open up and share. If your guests open up, your listeners will get the content they’re looking for.